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Trust hospital criticised for privatising pathology services

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6931.741 (Published 19 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:741
  1. S Kingman

    An NHS trust hospital that is about to privatise its pathology service has been reported to the district auditor by the British Medical Association (BMA), which wants an investigation into the way the trust conducted the tendering process. In a separate move the Royal College of Pathologists has said that it fears that the quality of the service could suffer if the privatisation goes ahead. North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said last October that it was awarding the contract for pathology services at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage to United Laboratories.

    Bob Ewings, chief executive of the trust, rejected the college's criticism that the quality of the service could suffer with independent management. “The service could suffer if the trust does not manage it properly. But we will have in place proper systems and proper structures to make sure that does not happen.”

    The contract is one of the first to be given to an independent company for pathology services in the NHS. It comes in advance of a review of pathology services by the Department of Health, due later this year, which will produce guidelines for developing “high quality, cost effective services responsive to the needs of patients and users.”

    Doctors' leaders fear that pathology is one of many clinical specialties that could be privatised and are worried that the quality of patient care could suffer. Dr Sandy Macara, chairman of the BMA's council, said: “We are concerned …

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